Sunday, September 13, 2009

Afford Organic By Buying Locally or Growing Your Own

Lately I've been frequenting my local farmer's market early on Saturday morning. The above is a picture of the bounty from one of my local trips. First apples of the season, the sweetest corn I've ever tasted and some great organic heirloom and chocolate tomatoes. No one can deny that buying organic produce is certainly more expensive than purchasing it's traditional counterpart, but frequenting a farmers market is one way to get what you need for less. For families that truly must stretch their dollars, farmers markets give an opportunity to buy some traditional produce at less than they would pay at a supermarket, which gives them a few extra dollars to spend on adding a percentage of organic items to their basket.

With summer winding down, many farmers markets will shut down towards the end of October. If you havent yet had a chance to visit a local farmers market, I recommend you try it before the season ends. The cucumbers are crunchier and the corn is sweeter (truly!). Not only is the food tastier, but you'll also be cutting down on your carbon footprint by buying locally and you'll personally get to know your growers. For more info. on where to locate a farmers market in your area and where to pick your own year-round, read my previous post here.
On a sidenote - albeit an important one... with the recession and the severe drought in California, produce prices are sure to rise in the upcoming months, so you may want to consider growing your own. Did you know that California produces about half of US grown fruits, vegetables and nuts? Some crops are produced solely in California. As of 2007, the state was home to 1 in 10 farms. According to the 2002 census, 9 out of the top 10 producing counties are in California (stats can be found here). Less water = crop issues = higher prices. We're all trying to save money by clipping coupons, but there are rarely coupons for produce, so I encourage all who are reading this to come up with creative ways to avoid the high prices of this precious commodity.

One of the ways our family is trying to save and eat healthier is to grow veggies on our back deck in planter boxes. By purchasing a packet of seeds, some potting mix and a container, you can enjoy veggies like fresh tomatoes without breaking the bank. With the success of our planter boxes, I'm also planning on installing a small garden in our yard with vegetables this winter - I'll update you more about that project in the days and weeks to come. Here's a pic of my son proudly displaying his own fresh-picked tomatoes (he helped plant them and he's responsible for watering the tomatoes and picking them):

Where you do you buy your fruits and veges from? Do you have tips on purchasing produce on a budget or growing your own produce?


  1. Beautiful tomatoes!

    I grow as much of my own fruits and vegetables as I can. I know that absolutely no pesticides have touched them! I trade surplus from my garden with friends who grow things that I don't. For other fruit and veggies that I need I go to the farmer's market when it is in season. I can grow some things in the winter, but I do have to supplement at the store. I find that if I buy organic items in season, then they are less expensive.

  2. The food from the Farmers Market does taste better and my kids actually eat it, because they meet the farmer. Sometimes I buy food from people who may have an umbrella and table in their front yard and sometimes neighbors share.

    Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Your 1.00 generates 10.00 when you spend it in the local economy versus having your 1.00 sent over to another country when you buy from the big box store. (ps I might have messed that Statistic up but its quite alarming nevertheless).

  3. Alea - I love that you exchange your suplus with friends - that's a great idea and enables everyone to have greater variety, especially people that don't have a large area to plant in.

    Anonymous - I agree with you on kids eating stuff because they meet the farmer, etc. I took my son to the farmers market and let him pick out small cherry and grape tomatoes of various colors for his lunchbox and he loves opening his box to find a variety of tiny yellow, red and purple tomatoes of varying sizes. And thanks for the recommendation on the book!


What are your thoughts? Your comments are welcome!